Date of Award

August 2020

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Media Studies

First Advisor

Lia Wolock

Committee Members

David Allen, Eric Lohman

Keywords

Digital media, Digital mediation, Social nonmovements, Technological affordances, Turkey, Veil

Abstract

This research project studies the digital mediation of the politics of communication and everyday life by examining the tweets of Turkish women who voiced their dissent regarding veiling practices during the #10YearChallenge trend in 2019. Like so many places, the question of veiling is central to the politicization of women's bodies in Turkey. The politicization of women’s bodies, in turn, is central to competing secular and conservative visions of the modern Turkish nation-state. By examining the digital dissent in relation to these competing national projects, I map the historical context of modernization and its impact on the contemporary discussion of the bodily performances and public participation of women. In this project I bring infrastructure and platform studies, theories of the public sphere, and postcolonial feminist approaches together to understand the digital mediation of the politics of communication and everyday life. I collected data on Twitter by using two main methods. The primary tweets that included the stories of women were collected by hand during the dissent. The second set of data was collected using Twitter's search feature by following two hashtags (#10YearChallenge, and #1YearChallenge) at the time and over the following months. The datasets were analyzed in line with the tenets of Critical Technocultural Discourse Analysis. Specifically, I examined the civil unrest and public discussion of veiling and unveiling through the critical lens of postcolonial feminism. I also sought to understand how contemporary technologies play key roles in everyday life and the politics of communication. Importantly, this paper challenges Western conceptualizations of social movements, mediation, technology, and dissent by looking at these tweets, and the formation of these dissenting groups in their own sociohistorical context. The analysis showed that unveiled women felt freer after unveiling to be in secular public spaces, and that they have used technology to communicate their message. Analyzing their complex and careful navigation of identities, spheres, and spaces reveals the struggles of women in Turkey as well as their triumphs. More broadly, this project also offers a look into digital cultures in Turkey.

Available for download on Thursday, October 27, 2022

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